NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Spring is an exciting time for little leaguers.
But kicking off baseball season means so much more for one Manhattan league. It’s about building a bond between players and police.
“I’m looking forward to play baseball,” player Brian Batista told CBS2’s Jenna DeAngelis. “Favorite part is when they use the bat and they throw the ball.”
The special league joins together young players and the police officers who coach them.
“It’s actually showing how police could make a big impact to our lives,” player Robinson Mejia said.
The league began as a tribute to Michael Buczek, who was killed in the line of duty in 1988. It has since grown to honor dozens of fallen officers.
“Police officers are our heroes,” said Austin Tuozzolo, son of the late NYPD Sgt. Paul Tuozzolo.
Each team wears the name of an NYPD officer who made the ultimate sacrifice, including Sgt. Tuozzolo, who was killed in 2016.
“The police officers worked with our daddy,” Austin said.
“It’s important for them to recognize how many people are honoring the sacrifice that their father made, as well as all other officers that were killed in the line of duty,” mom Lisa Tuozzolo added.
The league was created by Buczek’s father, Ted. Organizers say this year marks the the 30th annual opening day parade.
“Investing in the kids here, the future of this great neighborhood was the perfect way to continue Mike’s legacy,” said NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill.
An important part of the day was renaming the stretch of roadway near the baseball field after the man that made it all happen: Ted Buczek Way. His daughter Mary Jo Buczek said it’s a way to always remember.
“He created an oasis on this field, a field of dreams,” she said.
All in the name of an officer that left his life on the line and his heart in the community.